Transforming public procurement: The UK Green Paper
UK public spending soared during 2020 as the government dealt with the pandemic and prepared for a post-brexit UK. The proposals in the ‘Transforming public procurement’ Green Paper are intended to shape the future of public procurement in this country for many years to come.
Brexit means the UK no longer has to follow EU rules on procurement and the Government’s Green Paper looks at what replaces the EU procurement rules.
According to the paper the UK spends some £290 billion on public procurement every year. This huge amount of government spending must be leveraged to play its part in the UK’s economic recovery, opening up public contracts to more small businesses and social enterprises to innovate in public service delivery, and meeting our net-zero carbon target by 2050, Lord Agnew.
The Government’s goal, as set out in the paper, is to speed up and simplify our procurement processes, place value for money at their heart, and unleash opportunities for small businesses, charities and social enterprises to innovate in public service delivery. The current regimes for awarding public contracts are ‘too restrictive with too much red tape for buyers and suppliers alike, which results in attention being focused on the wrong activities rather than value and transparency’. The government wants a progressive, modern regime which can adapt to the fast moving environment in which business operates.
The papers mixed reviews
The publishing of this paper has brought about many different views and critiques on what the government has set out.
The Open Data Institute (ODI) is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit organisation who want data to work for everyone. When asked in a response to the paper, about whether they agree with the proposed legal principles of public procurement they :
“We strongly agree with the proposed legal principles of: public good, value for money, transparency, integrity, fair treatment of suppliers, and non-discrimination. These correspond closely with the principles of the ODI as expressed in our vision and manifesto. These principles are essential for a trustworthy procurement system, which we believe can be supported by an open, trustworthy data ecosystem.”
Others have argued that there needs to be clear and practical routes set out, and project techniques should be applied.
Adam Maddison, Director of client services at dxw, : “The Government needs to go further and commit to simplifying procurement for smaller players to help them have a real impact. Doing this would also make life easier for buyers for whom procurement is, more often than not, off-putting and time-consuming.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government and they work with councils to support, promote and improve local government. They stated: "It would be difficult in general terms to disagree with the legal principles of public procurement outlined in the Green Paper, however we do have some concerns."
These proposals set out by the UK government are historic for the country and if implemented, represent a considerable shift in public procurement in the UK.
Critiqom land four-year multi-million-pound procurement deal
Critiqom, a Scottish-based communications business, recently announced its ground-breaking multi-million deal, which will see those accessing services through Scottish Procurement given the option to modernise their communications approach.
By providing an increased amount of choice in communications, the company says it will succeed in ensuring a reduced environmental impact linked to mail production.
The Opus Trust Communications company, which is accessed by the likes of local authorities, police, universities, central government, and other public sector bodies, insists that choosing a local supplier to aid in enhancing the efficiency of public sector communications would subsequently speed up its goal to go green.
“This is an opportunity to look at the bigger picture and to use our knowledge to accelerate change for public sector organisations in Scotland,” says Director at Critiqom, Gerry Crawley.
“We know that we can deliver great efficiencies and cost savings by encouraging the public sector in Scotland to adopt a new approach that embraces digital technologies.”
The tender also introduced a second lot, focusing on digital communications and hybrid mail, in an attempt to administer reduced costs for its customers. All services within the framework agreement will also be delivered in-house.
It seems the overall aim for the deal with Scottish Procurement lies with innovating and modernising the communications sector, resulting in lower prices and an increased focus on sustainability.
Who is Critiqom?
Based in Bellshill, Scotland, Critiqom supplies omnichannel solutions for companies, businesses, and organisations, all while claiming to provide innovation and drive engagement simultaneously with reducing the costs of its operations.
Its vision: to become the UK’s multi-channel communication service of choice. But how is it aiming to get there?
Critiqom insists that by spearheading customer communications with partnership and modernisation, they can achieve exceptional levels of service and choice delivered to their clients. By churning out consistently high-quality operations and by generating revenue with an emphasis on sustainability, it intends to achieve the reduced costs in communications that its clients are looking for.
Why sign the deal now?
Increasingly, more and more companies are being put under pressure to ensure their carbon footprint and sustainable strategies are aligned with, or surpassing, competition in their field. As attention is drawn to the climate and concerns arise over the sustainability of large companies in the future, the majority of businesses are battling with time to decrease their impact on the environment and ensure policies are put into place to show their progress.
Crawley states that, where possible, the company aims to provide as little distance as necessary between manufacturing and the recipient. The tender boldly claims it looks to help steer the direction in which organisations think and showcase how digitalising communications can only serve to benefit the economy and environment on a large scale.